I was running. Running so fast the wind couldn’t keep up with me. My muscles ached, my lungs were bursting, and the oxygen I was breathing tasted like raw blood. My hair whipped in front of my face, blinding me. I pulled my hair from my face and kept on sprinting. My eyes were on the horizon. The sky was covered with muted clouds of mist that shined with the glow of the setting sun. It looked as if a blaze of pale fire was being ignited, about to burn the world down.
Running made me forget everything. All the painful memories that sometimes rose up to the surface laid at the bottom of the well that is my mind. The scars of the past no longer hurt, because I was caught up in the process of running. I was always more of a sprinter than a runner. I like to get to places fast in short amounts of time. I did not like marathon running, where you had to pace yourself or else you’ll lose energy and motivation. I like the speed of the first burst of momentum. And I like the end, when it was all over and you’ve reached your destination.
The lactic acid buildup in my legs made my muscles burn. My heart was beating too fast to count, and I couldn’t breathe. The cold air cut my breath like shards of glass. Running was painful. But it was also beautiful. I was not just a spectator to the world now, but an active player. As the earth revolved on its axis, I ran with it. Witnessing life in its infinite glory. And I too was living.
I was living in love too. The year I started running, or sprinting, was the year I fell out and into and out of love again. Falling into and out of love was analogous to sprinting for me. One, because I never could maintain my feelings for a prolonged period of time, and two, love and running both came me a rush of adrenaline that couldn’t be replicated by anything else. I was not someone built for a relationship, because I couldn’t handle having to have feelings for someone for longer than several months at that.
The year I started to change was the year I began to run seriously. Once I went back to school after my summer internship, I started practicing for and running 5K’s religiously. What initiated this change? Falling in love. And this time, it was different. It wasn’t like the previous transient infatuations that I had always had on guys who I knew I wouldn’t be compatible with in the long run. This guy was different.
He was beautiful, inside and out. Beautiful like the red sky at sunset when the ships come home. Beautiful like the way the sea would form white sea foam on top of the jagged black rocks of a shoreline I longed for. And not only was he beautiful, he was also unreachable. Many cities separated us, and that fact made me cry bitter tears at night. But after reconciling with the fact we would not be together, I became more determined. That determination helped me with my long distance running.
Long distance running takes dedication and perseverance. No matter how many times you think of stopping and quitting, you have to push through those feelings and just run until you reach your goal. Only then can you stop, because the sense of fulfillment and completion will wash over your senses and make you feel alive in the moment.
Falling in love, and being in it for the long haul is similar to long distance running. You want to quit so many times, quit having those feelings that won’t amount to anything, but you don’t, because you realize that the person in your mind is worth it. And until it’s finally time to let go and move on, you take those moments that you share with that person and revel in their beauty of the memories. These memories will be with you for the long haul, even if the person at the end of them won’t be. The feelings you get from running a long distance and for that special someone will eventually fade away, but the accomplishment never will.
And until then, I will keep on running along the shoreline into infinity.